Support Heartunions and fight the Trade Union Bill
War on Want is proud to be part of the international labour movement, to stand shoulder to shoulder with working people wherever they are, and the fight for workers' rights has been a top priority throughout our history.
From 8 – 14 February, War on Want will be supporting heartunions, the TUC’s week of action against the Trade Union Bill.
Heartunions is also a fantastic opportunity to tell people how important trade unions are and what they do in the workplace and the community. By the end of the week it is anticipated that even more working people will have fallen in love with trade unions and become a member.
Trade Union Bill: an attack on 6 million workers
On 2 November 2015, War on Want joined the TUC and union members from across the country that came to London to lobby their MPs and rally against the Trade Union Bill. This Bill is an ideological attack on 6 million trade union members.
The Bill, which applies to England, Wales and Scotland, not only undermines the right to strike but it is also a threat to all of our rights at work.
It includes plans to:
• Introduce a threshold of 50% turnout for industrial action ballots and – for what are defined as ‘important public sector services’ – a requirement of at least 40% of all eligible voters in favour of action.
• Lift the ban on using agency workers to replace permanent staff during strikes.
• Require unions to inform police and employers of strike plans 14 days in advance, including any proposed use of placards or loudspeakers, blogs or social media; and insist the “lead person” on any picket line wears an armband and gives their details to police and employers
Draconian restrictions on social media
The government clearly didn’t expect the numbers that turned up to lobby their MPs on 2 November, resulting in the government withdrawing some of their more draconian restrictions on social media and the criminalisation of certain aspects of picketing.
Arguably though, by removing some of the more outrageous elements of the Bill, they were attempting to hoodwink the public by appearing to be in ‘listening mode’, meanwhile leaving in other, more devastating attacks on trade union rights and civil liberties.
Right to strike under attack
We should be under no illusion that the fundamental right to strike is still under attack and the government is pushing ahead with plans to allow employers to break strikes by bringing in agency workers.
Picket officials will still have to give their name and contact details to the police, and unions still face court injunctions and possible damages if an organiser forgets to wear an armband or to carry a letter of approval from their union.
We should remember that the right to strike is a last resort.
No-one wants to go on strike, but sometimes there is no alternative when employers refuse to come to the negotiating table.
The Bill is now at the critical House of Lords stage. The House of Lords committee and report stages, which could happen in a matter of weeks, are our best chance to secure changes to the Trade Union Bill.
You can find out more about the heartunions week of activities 8-14 February 2016 at www.heartunions.org Why not also sign up to receive TU Focus, your email newsletter dedicated to our trade union affiliates and supporters and find out what we’re doing in heartunions week. Email Jackie SImpkins, Trades Union Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org